By Samuel Ajiboyede

This is a continuation of last post where I talked about how AI can help cybersecurity to better detect and mitigate attacks, and to protect data. We are taking the conversation after from external cybersecurity threats, to insider threats.

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AI can play a crucial role in preventing insider threats by continuously monitoring and analysing user behaviour and activities. Insider threats occur when individuals with authorized access to an organization’s systems, data, or information misuse their privileges for malicious purposes. AI-driven technologies can detect suspicious behaviours even within an organisation, identify patterns indicative of potential threats, and respond proactively to mitigate risks.


Here are some ways AI can do this:


1. Anomaly Detection: AI-powered systems can establish a baseline of normal behavior for each user or staff based on historical usage data. Any deviations from this baseline can be flagged as anomalies. For example, if an employee suddenly accesses an unusual amount of sensitive data or attempts to access data outside their usual working hours, the AI system can trigger an alert, prompting further investigations, and in essence, preventing any harm.

2. Behavioral Analytics: AI can perform continuous behavioural analysis by looking for patterns that indicate risky or suspicious behaviour. This may include analysing staffs’ login patterns, file access patterns, data movement, and application usage. By identifying unusual behavior in real-time, AI can detect potential insider threats before they escalate or cause any major damage.

3. Contextual Analysis: AI systems can also analyze user actions in the context of their role, job responsibilities, and the sensitivity of the data they are accessing. For instance, if an employee in the finance department starts accessing HR records, the AI system can flag this as unusual behavior and raise an alert.


4. Privileged User Monitoring: Monitoring the activities of privileged users, such as system administrators or IT personnel, is crucial to detect any unauthorized or abnormal actions. AI can monitor these users’ activities closely, ensuring that they are not abusing their elevated access privileges. This is a way to place checks even on the administrators.

5. Data Access Controls: AI can be used to implement dynamic data access controls. Access rights can be adjusted based on user behaviour, roles, and responsibilities. If the AI system detects suspicious activity, it can automatically restrict access or require additional authentication measures.

6. User Behaviour Profiling: AI can create detailed user behaviour profiles, taking into account factors such as typical work patterns, geographical locations, and application usage. By understanding what constitutes “normal” behavior for each user, the AI system can better detect deviations indicative of insider threats and flag/stop them.

7. Real-time Alerts and Response: When AI identifies potential insider threats, it can issue real-time alerts to security teams or administrators. This enables immediate investigation and proactive action to prevent any further malicious activities.

8. Machine Learning and Continuous Improvement: AI systems can continuously learn and adapt to evolving insider threat patterns. This is more than human-based security systems can do for you. Machine learning algorithms can identify new trends and behaviours, allowing the system to refine its detection capabilities over time.

It is almost impossible to think that one can summarise the capabilities of AI in any article. AI is nascent, so much so that it would not be easy to predict definitively how it will be used to protect against insider threats. There’s a lot more that AI can do.

By leveraging AI’s capabilities for anomaly detection, behavioural analytics, and context-aware monitoring, organizations can significantly enhance their ability to detect and prevent insider threats. Combining AI with human expertise and well-defined security policies can create a robust defence against the potential risks posed by insiders with malicious intent.

Is there any aspect of life that you think AI cannot be applied? Please share your thoughts.

By Samuel Ajiboyede
AI Expert | Fintech | Real Estate | Investor | Branding | Building Unicorns | Author of ‘The Entrepreneur’s Diary’

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